Views from The Left Coast: The Future of Cities

The Western US has long been an innovator in developing the urban form, notably in the creation of suburbanized, multipolar cities. Yet now that model is showing strain, and there’s a fierce debate about how western cities should grow. Watch as the panel explores these issues, from homelessness to high housing prices and the impact of regulation. Read more

The Future of Cities: The Future of the Big American City Is Not Bright

As COVID-19 begins to wane and become endemic, the question for policymakers, theorists, and Americans at large is: What is in store for our nation’s big cities? Please return weekly to read each chapter as it is published.

The Future of Cities: The Great Dispersion

This chapter describes general urbanization trends in the United States and around the world, from 1950 to the present. This book is being published as a series, with permission of the American Enterprise Institute. Please return weekly to read each chapter as it is published.

The Rise of the Single Woke Female

Unmarried women without children have been moving toward the Democratic Party for several years, but the 2022 midterms may have been their electoral coming out party as they proved the chief break on the predicted Republican wave. While married men and women as well as unmarried men broke for the GOP, CNN exit polls found that 68% of unmarried women voted for Democrats.

The Supreme Court’s August decision overturning Roe v. Wade was certainly a special factor in the midterms, but longer-term trends show that single, childless women are joining African Americans as the Democrats’ most reliable supporters.

Their power is growing thanks to the demographic winds. The number of never married women has grown from about 20% in 1950 to over 30% in 2022, while the percentage of married women has declined from almost 70% in 1950 to under 50% today. Overall, the percentage of married households with children has declined from 37% in 1976 to 21% today.

The Single Wave

The Pew Research Center notes that since 1960, single-person households in the United States have grown from 13% to 27% (2019). Many, particularly women, are not all that keen on finding a partner. Pew recently found that “men are far more likely than women to be on the dating market: 61% of single men say they are currently looking for a relationship or dates, compared with 38% of single women.”

There’s clearly far less stigma attached to being single and unpartnered. Single women today have many impressive role models of unattached, childless women who have succeeded on their own – like Taylor Swift and much of the U.S. women’s soccer team. This phenomenon is not confined to the United States. Marriage and birthrates have fallen in much of the world, including Europe and Japan. Writing in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, columnist Emma John observed that, “Singleness is no longer to be sneered at. Never marrying or taking a long-term partner is increasingly seen as a valid choice.”

Rise of Identity Politics

The rise of SWFs – a twist on the personal ad abbreviation for single white female – is one of the great untold stories of American politics. Distinct from divorced women or widows, these largely Gen Z and Millennial voters share a sense of collective identity and progressive ideology that sets them apart from older women. More likely to live in urban centers and to support progressive policies, they are a driving force in the Democratic party’s and the nation’s shift to the left. One paradox, however: Democrats depend ever more on women defined in the strict biological sense while much of the party’s progressive wing embraces the blurred and flexible gender boundaries of its identity politics.

Attitudes are what most distinguish single women from other voters. An American Enterprise Institute survey shows that married men and women are far more likely than unmarried females to think women are well treated or equally treated. As they grow in numbers, these discontented younger single women are developing something of a group consciousness. Nearly two thirds of women under 30, for example, see what happens to other women as critical to their own lives; among women over 50, this mindset shrinks to less than half.

Read the rest of this piece at Real Clear Investigations.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Samuel J. Abrams is a professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College and a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Photo: Michael Hicks via Flickr under CC 2.0 License.

Normalizing Jew-Hatred

The worst thing about the aftermath of Donald Trump’s repast last month with two open anti-Semites—Kanye West and Nick Fuentes—was not the predictable liberal outrage and conservative cowardice, but how the incident has been accepted as part of normal discourse.

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To Embrace Immigration, Canada Must Reject Trudeau’s Racialized Policies

Recent government moves to increase immigration to 1.2 million over the next three years reflects both a hopeful sign for Canada’s future, but also potential impact. Along with immigration’s many benefits, we could see the intensification of racialism and identity politics, the kind that is threatening to tear apart an already deeply divided United States. Read more

Anti-Semitism is Creeping Back into America

Donald Trump’s intimate tête-à-tête with Kayne West and white nationalist and Holocaust-denier Nick Fuentes should have caused a storm among Republicans. While Trump has tried to distance himself from the meeting, claiming not to know Fuentes, it was troubling to see how few conservatives spoke out in the first place. Read more

After Intersectionalism

The divisive racial ideology that dominated American politics for the past decade is dying. Led by minority activists and white progressives, “woke” ideology promoted a Manichean struggle between a coalition of the BIPOC, an acronym for “Black, Indigenous, and people of color” (assumed to be natural allies) against what the BIPOC Project calls a hegemonic system of “white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism.” But this vision of Black and white racial conflict, while still influential in universities and elite institutions, keeps getting rejected by American voters—as happened in political referendums on issues like policing and immigration, and most recently in the triumph of “normies” and centrists in the midterm elections.

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A Better Future

In earlier times, even with a soaring population, Americans knew how to accommodate housing demand. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries we built cities from scratch along the frontier. The existing major urban centers—Boston, New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia—all expanded rapidly, both by density and expansion into land on the periphery.

After the Second World War, mass suburbia and its expansion in homeownership ushered in a period of sustained prosperity that lasted until the 1970s. After 1940, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. homeownership rates grew rapidly, from 44 percent to 63 percent over the next three decades.

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A Tale of Two Americas

Tuesday’s Midterms were not a victory for conservative or progressive ideology, but an assertion of the growing power of geography in American politics. It was less a national election than a clash of civilizations.

Virtually nowhere in blue areas did Republicans make gains. Both the north-east and California – the central players in Democratic Party politics – stayed solidly blue. Even the most well-regarded GOP candidates, such as Lanhee Chen who ran for California state controller, struggled to make inroads in Democratic territory.

Meanwhile, the senators and governors of the leading red states – Texas’s Greg Abbott, Georgia’s Brian Kemp, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Ohio’s Mike DeWine – all won handily. Almost all blue-state governors remained the same as well, although the Democratic incumbents often won by smaller margins.

So, what is happening in this increasingly inexplicable country? Essentially, there are now two prevailing realities in the US. One is primarily urban, single and, despite some GOP gains in this demographic, still largely non-white. It functions on the backs of finance, tech and the service industries. The other is largely suburban or exurban, family centric and more likely involved in basic industries like manufacturing, logistics, agriculture and energy.

Usually, the media assume these two Americas represent equally viable political economies. But this is increasingly not the case. In population terms at least, red America is now growing far more rapidly than blue America. And this makes it more important politically. Since 1990, Texas has gained eight congressional seats, Florida five and Arizona three. In contrast, New York has lost five, Pennsylvania four and Illinois three. California, which now suffers higher net outbound-migration rates than most Rustbelt states, lost a congressional seat in 2020 for the first time in its history.

Geography is increasingly a factor in U.S. politics

This decline in blue America has accelerated since the pandemic, due to rising crime and the availability of remote work. Last year, New York, California and Illinois lost more people to outbound migration than all other states. Demographer Wendell Cox notes that the largest percentage loss of residents has occurred in big core cities such as New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. In contrast, population burgeoned in sprawling areas such as Phoenix, Dallas and Orlando.

The future of the GOP depends on the continued growth of such places, as well as the growth of suburbia nationwide. Between 2010 and 2020, 51 major metropolitan areas lost 2.7million net domestic migrants from their most central counties, while suburban counties gained two million people. The Midterms show that Republicans are gaining ground in these largely suburban areas – particularly in Florida, as well as suburban Phoenix, the outskirts of Atlanta, the Houston exurbs, largely suburban Nashville, the sprawling Virginia Beach area and suburban Detroit. Democrats, where they made gains yesterday, tended to be in places like California, where the Republican Party has all but ceased to exist.

Read the rest of this piece at Spiked.


Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at joelkotkin.com and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Chart: Abdullah Ali Abbasi via Wikimedia under CC 4.0 License.